LIVE EXPORTS – FROM AUSTRALIAN LABOR BACKBENCHERS

MEDIA RELEASE Thursday 7th July 2011

SERIOUS QUESTIONS OVER LIVE CATTLE EXPORTS

We note the Agriculture Minister’s lifting of the suspension of live cattle exports to Indonesia on the basis of a supply chain assurance by the exporters.

There are some serious questions concerning this matter that we will aim to resolve within the government. The first concerns the issue of stunning. The simplest and most effective way to ensure that cattle are slaughtered humanely is to stun them before slaughter.

Unfortunately, the OIE guidelines being proposed as the basis for reopening the trade with Indonesia are basic minimum standards for developing countries that do not include stunning and that do allow the dangerous roping slaughter techniques practised widely in Indonesia.

Major cattle producers including Heytesbury Cattle have publicly stated that, in the interests of ensuring sustainability and certainty in their industry, they will implement a “no stun, no deal” policy. We call on the rest of the industry to commit to the same policy position.

In our view it is essential that stunning be part of the supply chain assurance that is a condition for the issuance of an export licence.

The second serious question concerns the “independent commercial auditing”. The community wishes to have confidence that cattle are being appropriately treated and will therefore need significantly more information about the proposed audit process to be able to assess its adequacy. For instance, who will have access to Indonesian abattoirs processing Australian cattle, how often will these inspections occur, and will random audits be permitted? What will be the level of transparency about the audit process? The community will look to the two peak animal welfare bodies RSPCA Australia and Animals Australia for their assessment of the proposed audit process.

We believe the fault for this debacle lies fair and square with the industry bodies, Meat and Livestock Australia and Live corp, who have abjectly failed to regulate the industry and ensure the welfare of Australian animals despite receiving evidence on numerous occasions of animal cruelty over many years. Those industry bodies are yet to accept responsibility for the events of the last month, and they continue to blame animal welfare organisations and the government.

The Leader of the National Party’s description of the last four weeks as a “lost month” is a disgrace. His support for a ‘business as usual’ approach would have continued the torture of animals. Without the work of the past month we would have no idea what was happening to exported cattle and Australian cattle would today be heading off to Indonesia to suffer the same barbaric fate we witnessed on Four Corners.

Signed by 9 backbenchers in the Australian Labor Party – they are rightly objecting to their own party’s decision.

For more information, please visit:

www.liveexportshame.com

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